Case Study: Custom eDiscovery Consulting, Open Records

Type of Project: Custom eDiscovery Consulting, Open Records Requests

Client:  Major Metropolitan Police Department

The challenge: When you’re a major metropolitan police department trying to stay caught up with all the Open Records requests coming in from reporters, it can be a challenge. We were contacted by a police department with exactly this problem – and some not-so-pleasant side effects of this problem right long with it. They were equipped with outdated software that was no longer being supported by the manufacturer – thus causing issues in providing all responsive information. The ensuing bad publicity and public backlash made them say enough was enough.

This system had to change – quickly, for the better, and for the long term.

How ESI Attorneys addressed the challenge: We were brought into the police department’s communication hub to review the existing processes for responding to Open Records requests. We discovered that the department was responding to over 26,000 requests annually – at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The department wanted to increase response efficiency while lowering overall costs (music to our ears and right up our alley). Additionally, they needed to integrate new technologies for capturing data – dashboard cameras on cruisers, handheld devices for issuing tickets, new technology for collecting and storing 911 calls – and utilize other forms of technology to mask private information on records to protect citizens when information is disclosed.

Recent court decisions on the Open Records law disallowing redaction costs (and other expensive measures needed to protect the citizens’ privacy) resulted in more costs added to every open records request response. This increased already existing pressure for the Department to revamp processes.

ESI Attorneys’ solution: We sat down with the Chief of Staff and officers responsible for the Open Records response team and conducted a needs assessment that would yield:

  • an overview of the issues
  • identify where efficiencies could be achieved
  • evaluate current assets (people, technology, and department knowledge)

Our team then put together a multi-step strategy to address performance of the email archive, develop better processes within the Department for handling Open Records requests, and better leverage existing talent and technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

ESI Attorneys recommended tools for indexing and reviewing electronic data faster and eliminated days worth of time spent reviewing thousands of emails. Our new strategies worked within the confines of existing state law to help recover a greater percentage of the costs of responding.

The outcome:

  • Implementation of the initiatives is set to begin Summer 2013
  • Department is now aware of what needs to be done and is evaluating next steps with ESI Attorneys to bring costs under control and implement processes to better serve the municipality.